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Guide to Online Counseling Psychology Master’s Programs

Are you interested in becoming a marriage and family therapist or a school counselor? Earning your master’s in counseling psychology online can be the first step toward a prosperous and fulfilling career. Explore top programs, specialization options, and career opportunities after graduation in this guide.

Author: STEPS Staff
Editor: STEPS Staff

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A smiling young woman shakes hands with her therapist as she sits on a sofa.

Do you enjoy observing relationships and analyzing group dynamics? Are yIf you have a passion for observing relationships and analyzing group dynamics, possess patience, good listening skills, and a desire to help others, a career as a counseling psychologist may be an excellent fit for you. Pursuing a master’s degree in counseling psychology online can be a great way to start your journey towards this rewarding profession.

Online counseling psychology master’s programs ground students with an understanding of mental health theories and principles focusing on healing and wellness. Students learn counseling techniques and strategies of prevention, intervention, and remediation to help patients develop healthy coping skills. Counseling psychologists help others to better themselves and are growing in demand. Both marriage and family therapy and rehabilitation and mental health counseling fields anticipate high growth over the next decade. School counseling is also expected to grow.

The process of selecting the right program can be daunting. However, this guide can assist you in choosing the most appropriate online counseling psychology master’s program for you. It outlines top programs, basic admission requirements, and coursework, as well as providing answers to frequently asked questions. Read on to gain insight on how to take the next step towards your new career.

Best Online Counseling Psychology Master’s Programs in 2024

Getting your master’s in counseling psychology online offers benefits like self-paced learning and work/life flexibility. You’ll also learn new technology skills while improving your virtual communication. Online programs also provide a unique opportunity to collaborate with other students from diverse backgrounds.

To assist in your search, we’ve highlighted this year’s top online counseling psychology master’s programs. Each offers a unique combination of affordability, flexibility, and accreditation to help you reach your career goals.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings, followed by online learning and academic quality metrics (equally weighted).

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of graduate students at the school taking at least one class online.


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for graduate students per academic year.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower ratios ranked higher.
  • Percentage of students admitted. More selective schools ranked higher.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program from Southwestern Assemblies of God University takes a biblical approach to prepare students to become licensed professional counselors. The curriculum is specifically designed to meet the licensure requirements for Texas, as well as to prepare students to advance to a doctoral counseling program. Because